The main drawback of the currently available PCIe 5.0 SSDs that anyone can buy is their high temperature. The high speed at which data must be moved, combined with a lithographic node far from the cutting edge to make them cost-effective, results in these SSDs heating up over time and with use, which can lead to the dreaded throttling. However, this issue will largely be resolved in 2024, as Phison has provided a glimpse of hope by unveiling three new SSD controllers for PCIe 5.0, manufactured by TSMC using a 7 nm process, leaving behind the current 12 nm designs.
This temperature issue is a major problem, causing many users to be cautious and choose slower yet more reliable, well-tested, and cooler PCIe 4.0 models. It’s worth noting that NAND Flash is highly temperature-sensitive, and as some faster PCIe 5.0 SSDs approach their limit, cell degradation sets the stage for future catastrophe.
Phison has showcased 3 new SSD controllers for PCIe 5.0, manufactured by TSMC at 7 nm. These controllers were revealed at CES 2024, covering the main market segments: high-end, mid-range, and budget within PCIe 5.0.
PS5026-E26 Max14um is the first SSD controller to be manufactured using TSMC’s 7 nm process. It integrates Micron’s new B58R NAND Flash, which achieves 2,400 MT/s per channel, offering impressive performance with read speeds exceeding 14 GB/s and write speeds over 12.7 GB/s.
PS5031-E31T is the mid-range controller for PCIe 5.0, notable for its lack of DRAM. Designed to offer lower temperatures, high performance, and affordability for SSDs, it supports up to 8 TB of storage and nearly 11 GB/s of sequential read and write speeds, with random access speeds surpassing 1,500 IOPS.
PS5027-E27T is aimed at dominating PCIe 4.0, but not for high-performance SSDs. The controller targets an intriguing niche market, namely M.2 2230 SSDs, which are primarily used in portable gaming consoles. This controller does not have DRAM and features improved power management compared to its predecessor.
Meanwhile, PS2251-21 offers the most curious controller at Phison’s booth. It is a single, basic chip intended for the USB4 standard with 40 Gbps speed, which will soon be necessary given the increasing filesize of digital content. The controller can be integrated into both laptops and portable external SSDs, helping to drive the market for these products.
These first market 7 nm PCIe 5.0 SSD controllers will help reduce the temperature of these devices. Along with the upcoming NAND Flash options, the current situation of bulky heatsinks for these SSDs should shift towards a more common, efficient, and affordable solution.
In summary, PCIe 5.0 SSDs will transition from 12 nm to TSMC’s 7 nm process, resulting in significantly reduced temperature issues and higher speeds by 2024.